The governing body of European soccer came to its senses and halted its short-lived investigation into Germany goalkeeper and captain Manuel Neuer for wearing a rainbow armband to support the LGBTQ community, the Germany national team announced Sunday.
Neuer was reportedly being investigated for making a political demonstration, which is against UEFA policy. He’s worn the accessory for Germany’s two European championship league games this month against France and Portugal, in addition to a friendly match against Latvia.
In a statement, UEFA said it determined the armband was a symbol for diversity and thus an acceptable cause to promote.
“UEFA looked into the armband worn by the player in question and, considering that it was promoting a good cause, i.e. diversity, the team will not face disciplinary proceedings,” a spokesperson told Adam Crafton of The Athletic.
UEFA have today shared with the DFB that they have stopped the review of the rainbow captain's armband worn by @Manuel_Neuer.— Germany (@DFB_Team_EN) June 20, 2021
In a letter, the armband has been assessed as a team symbol for diversity and thus for a 'good cause.' #EURO2020 #GER pic.twitter.com/HFiAAQ6F5D
While it’s good to see UEFA came to its senses, this inquiry should’ve never been launched. It’s downright insulting to conflate supporting LGBTQ people during Pride month with taking a provocative political stance — especially given UEFA’s previous declarations about ensuring Euro 2020 will be a safe place for LGBTQ people.
The long-awaited championship tournament got underway this month after being postponed for a year due to the coronavirus. It’s being held in 11 European countries, including Hungary, which only adds to the confederation’s blunder.
During Hungary’s two Euro 2020 matches against France and Portugal, a number of anti-LGBTQ banners were unfurled at the Puskas Arena in Budapest, The Athletic reports. While UEFA initially refused to address the episodes, it announced Sunday it’s investigating the “potential discriminatory incidents.”
That’s right: For a short while, UEFA viewed anti-LGBTQ demonstrations and a player supporting the LGBTQ community in the same light.
Right-wing Hungarian president Victor Orban is launching a disgusting campaign against LGBTQ people, with the national parliament recently passing legislation by a 157-1 margin that bans the discussion of LGBTQ issues in schools. The draconian edict has been compared to Russia’s infamous law banning “gay propaganda.”
With that in mind, it’s vital for UEFA to discipline the Hungarian national soccer federation for some of its fans’ hateful behavior. The governing body has a responsibility to make a statement, just like the Germany national team will when they host Hungary on Wednesday. The Munich City Council has called for the Allianz Arena to be lit in rainbow colors during the contest.
Munich's city council has called for the Allianz Arena to be lit in rainbow colors for Germany's game vs. Hungary.— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) June 20, 2021
Hungary's parliament recently passed legislation that bans content in schools that is deemed to promote homosexuality or gender change.https://t.co/wUUmgfuCDq pic.twitter.com/V9nSOfJGk7
On Friday, FIFA finally placed a stringent penalty on Mexico’s soccer federation for anti-gay slurs being shouted by fans during two Olympic qualifying games in March. Spectators are now banned from the Mexican men’s national soccer team’s next two game CONCACAF World Cup qualifying matches.
Unfortunately, the FIFA investigation didn’t stop Mexico fans from chanting the gay slur “puto” on U.S. soil. They screamed the derogatory insult — “puto” translates to “male prostitute” — during Mexico’s match against Costa Rica in Denver June 7. The match was temporarily halted, in accordance with Colorado state law.
Until FIFA and UEFA take serious action to combat anti-LGBTQ chants and banners, these kinds of ugly incidents will keep happening. On its website, UEFA says its objectives are, among other things, to “promote football in a spirit of unity, solidarity, peace, understanding and fair play, without any discrimination on the part of politics, race, religion, gender or any other reason.”
Well, this is a case where actions speak louder than words. Looking into Neuer for acknowledging LGBTQ pride goes against UEFA’s mission statement — to say the absolute least.